06/10/2004 11:00PM

Woodbine shippers flood gate


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Sixteen runners were entered for Sunday's $50,000 Adena Springs Matchmaker, a stakes for fillies and mares, 3 years old and up.

It is Fort Erie's second stakes of the year and its first grass race of the meet.

If the weather cooperates and the five-furlong race remains on the grass, the field will be limited to 10 starters. If it is moved to the main track, 12 horses will be permitted to start. The six lowest earners in 2003-2004 are listed as also-eligibles.

Eight shippers from Woodbine are among the top 10 starters.

Dressed for Action, trained by Tony Mattine, could emerge as the favorite. A 4-year-old daughter of Bold n' Flashy, Dressed for Action made an eye-catching 2004 debut at Woodbine May 9, leading until deep stretch in a 5 1/2-furlong allowance sprint before losing by a half-length.

Dressed for Action, who has earnings of $289,820, has a win and a second in three starts on the turf. She led wire to wire in the $166,500 Ontario Damsel at 6 1/2 furlongs on the Woodbine turf last June. And she finished second in the $139,000 Bold Ruckus on grass earlier that month

Leading Role, a 6-year-old who is trained and part-owned by Gail Casselman, is the top earner in the field, with $452,971, but has shown little in her two starts this year.

A return to the turf could be a tonic for Leading Role. She is a three-time winner on the surface.

The "now" horse in the field appears to be Princess Edwina, a 4-year-old who has 3 wins in her 5 lifetime starts. She has won both her starts this year, both at five furlongs, one in the slop and the other on a fast track.

Princess Edwina's maiden win was last August over 6 1/2 furlongs of firm turf. She is in the barn of Mike Mareina, who has been hot this spring at Woodbine.

The two leading Fort Erie-based runners in the race are Prospective Gal and Soon to Be Single.

Trainer Lynn Simon said she entered Soon to Be Single in the race mainly to use it as a prep for the $100,000 Ernie Samuel Memorial Stakes here July 18. The Samuel Memorial is at 1 1/16 miles on the grass, a distance her runner relishes.

Daryl Ezra, trainer and part-owner of 7-year-old Prospective Gal, an earner of $354,507, admits his horse is not a five-furlong turf horse.

"She wants to go longer," said Ezra. "But she has won two stakes on the grass here before. Overall, we're running because of the stud services offered."

The top three finishers of the Adena Springs Matchmaker receive a service to one of three stallions in the Frank Stronach organization. This year the services are to Red Bullet, Milwaukee Brew, and Gold Case.